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Hoskins’ legal saga drags on with her $2 billion lawsuit

Beth Lynne Hoskins is behind bars, serving a jail term for violating probation after her conviction on neglecting her horses.

But her own lawsuit – seeking $2 billion – goes on.

In March 2013, on the third anniversary of the raid on her farm where authorities found dozens of horses in neglect, Hoskins filed a civil lawsuit naming the SPCA and 18 others, including her former husband. She contended that they defamed her and caused her emotional distress.

The SPCA and its employees are expected to be dropped as defendants to comply with a settlement order reached by State Supreme Court Justice Joseph R. Glownia, the SPCA and Hoskins last spring.

But her lawsuit will continue against her former husband, Jeff Stacey, and the whistleblower in the animal cruelty case, Christopher Kane, a farmhand who worked for Hoskins briefly, cleaning stalls and feeding the horses. Ultimately, he contacted the SPCA.

In court papers, Hoskins alleged that the agency’s staff schemed to have Kane stop working at the farm and instead take pictures of uncleaned stalls and provide the photos to the Erie County District Attorney’s Office. She also alleged that Kane and an SPCA officer made sworn, false statements that led to the search warrant and the seizure of the horses. Hoskins also said Kane let manure accumulate in the stalls, instead of cleaning them, and took photos used to justify the search warrant.

Stacey said he played no role in what happened to Hoskins and the case that unfolded after the raid.

“I didn’t do anything. I had no involvement in the SPCA raid, and she thinks I did. The first time I spoke with Christopher Kane was a year ago. I never met Chris Kane before in my life,” Stacey said Saturday. “I think Beth is delusional in thinking that I had something to do with it because I didn’t.”

“I was just as surprised as anyone else when they raided that farm,” Stacey said.

In the aftermath of the civil suit, Stacey filed a counterclaim alleging defamation. He said he cannot afford a lawyer, after years of legal wrangling with his former wife. He recently began working again after battling stage 4 lymphoma, now in remission.

In addition to her own lawsuit, Hoskins filed an additional lawsuit on behalf of her 10-year-old daughter, also seeking $2 billion in damages from Stacey and Kane. Both lawsuits contain the same wording and allegations.

The gist of the suit is Hoskins’ contention that the SPCA and other defendants schemed to defame and disparage her, using the seizure of the horses to humiliate and embarrass her, inflicting emotional distress on her and her family. In legal papers, Hoskins also said she believes the seizure was being used by the SPCA for its fundraising purposes.

The lawsuits are scheduled for an airing before state Supreme Court Justice Henry J. Nowak on Jan. 29.

Ralph C. Lorigo, an attorney for the SPCA, described Hoskins’ lawsuits as “ridiculous.“

“The lawsuits, are in my opinion, ludicrous, except to anybody but her,” Lorigo said. “From the beginning, I thought the lawsuits had no real value except to appease her.”

Gregory L. Davis, Hoskins’ attorney, declined to comment about the civil case but conceded that the SPCA will be dismissed as a defendant.

Meanwhile, Hoskins remains jailed in Erie County Correctional Facility in Alden. On Dec. 12, she began serving a 90-day jail sentence for violating nine terms of probation after her conviction a year ago on 52 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.

She is likely to serve 60 of the 90 days of the sentence, authorities said.

A trusteeship overseeing Hoskins’ 67 horses at her Emery Road farm in Aurora is under order from Glownia to transfer or sell 32 horses no later than Jan. 31. Glownia has allowed Hoskins to keep 35 horses.

Hoskins has purchased a home with 10 horse stalls in Clarence, according to Thomas J. Eoannou, her attorney in the criminal case.